What’s for supper? Vol. 249: I’m holding out for a gyro

Man, that was a fast week. The kids were on vacation, so I had the time to cook a bit more than I have in a while. Some tasty meals! Come for the recipes, stay to see the worst thing I’ve ever done to my car.

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Burgers grilled outside, chips

First outdoor meal of the year! I’m very happy. I love eating outdoors, even though we seem to run through tabletops like nobody’s business, and, not wanting to sit at a topless table like a jerk, I always end up perching on a rock and balancing my plate on my knees like a jerk. But I had a dinner companion on Saturday, who perches on rocks and balances things on her knees for fun.

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, veggies

A popular meal, as long as I don’t make it very often, which I do. 

MONDAY
Beef shish kebab, roast corn on the cob

Great price on big hunks of beef, so I cut it up into chunks and marinated it.

I wish I had let it marinate longer, as it was still fairly tough. Good flavor, though. I browsed a bunch of recipes and then came up with my own marinade, which I wrote down on a piece of paper and then lost. Please clap.

Anyway, I threaded the beef on wooden skewers with onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and little tomoots.

I usually soak the skewers in water for half an hour to keep them from catching on fire and to keep the meat from drying out, but this time I was seized with skepticism, so I skipped that step. Guess what happened. So fine, so next time I’ll soak them. 

I had a bunch of corn on the cob (from Florida, apparently. I don’t think of Florida as full of corn fields, but I guess it can’t be all alligators and headlines) but didn’t start any water boiling in time to cook it, and Damien didn’t have any space on the grill for it; so I heated up the broiler, slathered the shucked corn with melted butter, and broiled it for ten minutes or so, turning it once.

Then I sprinkled it with elote seasoning, and it was pretty good! Maybe a little bit dry, but it’s early corn anyway, so maybe that was inevitable. Definitely a decent, easy option. I do love corn that’s slightly charred.

Such an ornamental little meal.

TUESDAY
Lamb gyros

If I told you how cheap lamb was, you’d plotz. It was so cheap! So I did that crazy easy recipe from Tom Nichols’ grandmother, and as usual, it turned out juicy, incredibly tender, and bursting with flavor. I used to go to a lot of trouble inserting slivered garlic into lamb, but believe me: This is a thousand times easier and it really tastes better. 

Jump to Recipe

So I roasted the lamb and sliced it up

and we had it on pita bread with spicy fries, tomatoes, fresh mint leaves, and plenty of garlicky yogurt sauce.

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Freaking fantastic meal. 

I love lamb so much, and the mint leaves and yogurt sauce made it truly delightful.

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, spicy coleslaw, rice, pineapple, lemon meringue pie

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe forevvvvvver. It’s supposed to be a party dish: You serve up a gleaming mountain of a pork roast, and everybody gathers around and pokes their chopsticks through the crisp, caramelized skin, happily picking out scrumptious tender shreds of meat, which they then dip into various savory sauces and eat wrapped up in lettuce with a little rice. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

We didn’t quite get there. We got close! It was delicious. It was extremely late. It was juicy and screaming with flavor. It was not shreddy. It was the saltiest thing I have eaten since I just straight up ate some salt. The kids mostly loved it and said I should make it again, but that may possibly have been because it was three hours past normal dinnertime. I don’t know! I do want to make it again.

I used the recipe from My Korean Kitchen. You rub the pork with, like, an alarming amount of sea salt and sugar

wrap it, and let it sit at least six hours, or overnight. Then you unwrap it and cook it at a low temp for six hours. Then you slather a sugary mixture over it to finish it up with a nice rich crust, and then you serve it as described above. 

As you can see, I had two smaller pork shoulders, rather than one giant one, so I reasoned I could get away with cooking it for closer to 3.5 hours. No dice. 4.5 hours later, it still wasn’t shreddy, but we were ravenous, so I called it done and sliced it up. 

The flavors more than made up for the deficiencies in texture. I was also bowled over by the dipping sauce, which is made with (doenjang) soybean paste, gochujang (fermented chili paste), sesame oil, sesame seeds, honey, garlic, onion, scallions, and walnuts, all ground up together.

You guys, it was amazing. It was one of those foods that goes, “beep, bop, boop, KABLAMMO” in your mouth, one flavor after another. Really lively and intense. A tiny bit went a long way.

I also made the spicy Korean coleslaw she recommended, which had a lovely, bright kick, and helped balance out the intensely salty pork. I also cut up a couple of pineapples, and set out a big pot of rice and bunch of lettuce leaves. 

Note: This meal is about 46,300 calories per serving. So go run around the block a few times, you’ll be fine. It’s so good. 

And Clara, having made some rash promises to some Amelia Bedelia fans, came through with a lemon meringue pie. By the time it was time for dessert, the pies had slumped a bit, but they were still very tasty.

She used my recipe for cheater’s lemon meringue pie

Jump to Recipe

which is pretty easy, and has only a few ingredients and has a great, intensely lemony flavor. 

THURSDAY
Domino’s pizza

On Thursday we technically went to an art museum and technically ate restaurant food. Promises were made and then technically kept. I complained about Thursday in an essay I just sent off to Australia, so you will just have to wait. The short version is: It’s a good thing I haven’t bought a new car yet, because this is what I did to my old car:

100% my fault, nobody got hurt, and you can totally still open the other two doors, so. 

FRIDAY

Kids are having Giant Chocolate Pancake, adults are having shrimp lo mein. No doubt some people will have both. Imma use my super simple lo mein recipe

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and throw some shrimp in there and no one can stop me. Except possibly Pfizer. We had our second Pfizer shots yesterday and I may be just a damp spot on the floor by Friday evening, in which case, the kids know how to make their own pancakes. 

Okay, here’s the recipe cards! In case I didn’t heartily recommend the lamb gyros or the bo ssam enough, I’m heartily doing it again. 

 

Tom Nichols' Grandmother's Leg of Lamb

Ingredients

  • boneless leg of lamb
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • garlic salt
  • oregano

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.

  2. Slash the meat several times, about an inch deep.

  3. Fill the cuts with plenty of garlic powder.

  4. Slather olive oil all over the meat.

  5. Crust it with garlic salt. Sprinkle with all the oregano you own.

  6. Cover meat loosely with tinfoil and cook three hours. Uncover and cook for another 30 minutes.

5 from 2 votes
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Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

 

 

Cheater's lemon meringue pie

I like a pie shell made from several cups of animal cracker crumbs whirred into a sandy texture, mixed with a stick of melted butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a dash of salt. Mix well and press into the pan.

Ingredients

  • 1 pie shell

For the lemon layer:

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350

  2. Mix together the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.

  3. Bake 10-15 minutes until the mixture has a little skin.

  4. While it's baking, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until it has soft peaks. Then gradually add the sugar until it has stiff peaks.

  5. When the lemon layer comes out of the oven, spread the meringue over the top and make a little peaks all over it with a fork or spatula.

  6. Return the pie to the oven and bake for another ten minutes or so until the meringue is slightly browned.

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 32 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.

  4. Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.

  5. Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

Duty and salvation

When my oldest kid was about four, she happened to wake up around midnight to go to the bathroom. She stumbled through the living room, where my husband and I were sitting.

On this particular night – which was not a typical night! – we happened to be watching Daffy Duck cartoons and eating candy. She didn’t say a word, but just nodded to herself and kept walking. She was clearly thinking, “I KNEW it!”

It was, as I say, not a typical night. A typical night would be more likely to find us filling out insurance paperwork, trying to get stains out of someone’s favourite overalls, or simply trying to muster up the strength to get up, brush our teeth, struggle our way under the covers, and get a few hours of sleep before the baby woke up for her first feeding, so we could catch another few hours of sleep before it was time to get up and do it all over again, take care of everybody and everything all over again.

But what she saw was burned into her brain, and she thought she had found the real secret of adulthood: As soon as the kids’ bedroom door closes, you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT.

She wasn’t really wrong. Adults CAN do whatever they want. The catch is, if they DECIDE to do whatever they want, they’ll almost certainly ruin their lives and the lives of everyone around them, and go to hell when they die. It’s kind of a big catch.

What I tell my kids is that, when you’re a child, people make you do things you don’t want to do. But when you’re an adult, you have to make yourself do the things you don’t want to do. You have to be the unwilling worker and the strict taskmaster, both!

It occurs to me that we, even as adults, often fall into thinking of God as the strict taskmaster: the one who descends from on high, telling us what we can and cannot do. Every time we feel the urge to do WHATEVER WE WANT — uh oh, here comes God, saying “no, no, no.” Get up, take care of the thing, don’t do the thing you want to do, do the thing you don’t want to do instead. Then, tomorrow, do it all over again, even though you’re tired.

Following the ten commandments can feel very much like this, some days, or some years. And then we go to confession and admit, “I didn’t do the thing you told me to do. I failed.” And God forgives us, which is nice.

I’ve been teaching my faith formation class, over and over again, that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are the sheep. We are the silly ones who need to be saved, and He is the saviour. We are the wandering ones, and He is the one who finds us. We are the ones who fall into the hole, and He is the one who pulls us out again.

So I was making up my lesson plans and I realised that, with all this talk about sheep, I had not yet introduced the kids to the idea that Jesus is the paschal lamb. And boy, the strangeness of it hit me right between the eyes. God is not only the shepherd, but also the lamb.

I know you know this. You’re a Catholic, so you’ve heard it all before. But have you ever thought about how strange it is?

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly

What’s for supper? Vol. 78: Hallelujah! Let’s eat!

Hooray, a Friday food post again! I actually spent last Friday, Good Friday, cooking and not tasting. IT WAS HARD. But I was way behind on Passover cooking, so that’s how it turned out.

Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY 

Holy Saturday is when we have our Passover seder. On the menu for the feast:
Chicken soup with matzo balls

The soup turned out much buttier than usual; no idea why. It’s supposed to be on the clear side, and “golden” (i.e. shimmering with fat). Tasted great, though.

Chopped liver


Gefilte fish (store bought) with horseradish


Charoset


Spinach pie


and Garlic cinnamon chicken and
A tiny bit of roast lamb (it hadn’t gone on sale yet!)

You can find recipes for all of the foods above in this post.

The only thing I intentionally made different this year was to cook the spinach pies in mini muffin tins, rather than in a pie plate. I just don’t think you should hear “pie” and then taste spinach and onions. (For some reason “spinach muffin” doesn’t trouble me.) I thought they were cute and tasty this way, and will make them this way again.

I didn’t have a meat grinder this year (but am eyeing this attachment for my Kitchen Aid), so I made the four pounds of chopped liver in small batches in the blender. This was not a gratifying experience. It wasn’t velvety smooth, but still delicious.

Dessert:
Chocolate walnut cake with apricot
Lemon sponge cake
Four kinds of macaroons (store bought)
Chocolate-covered jelly rings
Chocolate-covered halvah (sesame candy)
Sesame crunch candies
Pistachios and almonds
Chocolate caramel matzoh

I moaned and groaned over not having any fruit slice candy this year, but we survived.
Both cakes were from new recipes this year. The chocolate one had a nice flavor, but it was squashier than I would like. Pretty, though.


The lemon one also tasted fine, but man, it was dense. No sponge about it. I just don’t have a light touch with baking, and baking without flour or yeast is just asking for some really compact treats! I think I used the recipe on the side of the potato starch can.

***

SUNDAY
Seder leftovers!

And boy, there were plenty.  And of course hard boiled eggs, and a world of Easter candy.

***

MONDAY
Matzo brei, salami, dill pickles, grapes

Matzo brei is a weird little recipe that everyone should know. You take a sheet of matzo, break it into chunks in a bowl, and pour hot water over it. Let it sit for thirty seconds or so, and then press the water out. Then beat up two eggs, stir in the drained matzo, and fry the mixture up in some hot oil, turning once, until the edges are crisp.

You can serve it with jelly, you can serve it with salt and pepper and fried onions, whatever. It’s SO GOOD. Worth venturing into the Jewby aisle to get yourself a box of two of matzo, believe me.

***

TUESDAY
Beef banh mi

Remember when I asked how to make Easter last for fifty days? You could do worse than making a lot of banh mi, especially if you just happen to have a lot of leftover chopped liver in the house. These sandwiches were out of this world.

In the morning, I sliced up some carrots as thin as I could, then put them in a jar to pickle with some white vinegar, a little water, and some sugar.

Then I sliced the meat (I used London broil) pretty thin and put it in a bag to marinate, using this recipe. I let it go for about six hours. My husband cooked up the meat — well, first he ran out for more bread, because I burned the first batch while toasting it. Then he toasted more bread, and then he cooked up the meat in a single layer on a roasting pan under a hot broiler, just enough to blacken the edges a tiny bit.

So, the smell. This marinade calls for garlic, shallots, and fish sauce. Benny spent the dinner hour hiding under a fleece Our Lady of Guadalupe blanket and weeping because the house smelled “wike dog frow up.” Which, well, she wasn’t wrong, especially early in the cooking. But it tasted so good.

Toasted rolls with mayonnaise, lots of cilantro, pickled carrots, sliced cucumbers, the meat, and then chopped liver. Oh, my stars. The sweet, savory meat frolicking with the snappy, sour carrots, and the strong, bitey liver cuddling up to the cool cucumbers and cilantro. It was so good, it was almost indecent.

***

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

I spent the afternoon sorting winter clothes to be stored away. Four hours from start to finish:

so the kids made hot dogs.

***

THURSDAY
Instant pot mac and cheese

I made a triple recipe of this in my Instant Pot (associates link). The hot sauce and mustard give it a good flavor. This is miles easier and faster than cooking the pasta, cooking the sauce, and then mixing them together and baking it. Also, this time, I read the directions more carefully and did not shoot a geyser of yellow cheese at the ceiling through the steam vent.

***

FRIDAY
Roast lamb, challah, maybe asparagus if I remember to get some

Today is Friday within the octave of Easter, or, as it’s traditionally known, Meatster Friday. Leg of lamb was at the astonishing price of $2.99 a pound, so I got a niiiiiice big one. Gonna stud it with slivered garlic and rosemary, slather it with white wine and honey, and roast it.

Gonna try out this challah recipe. Here’s a pic of the last time I made challah:

And now I’m running out to buy some yeast. Benny says, “Yeast makes everything rise! God thought of it! He thought of everything! He made friends and family! He made sisters and brothers! And cousins! Well . . . I’m not so sure about cousins.”

Sorry, cousins. I don’t know how you earned a place in Benny’s theodicy, but there it is.
Happy Easter! Happy Meatster! He is risen! Let’s eat.